AN MP has co-sponsored a bill with the aim of raising more awareness amongst police officers of autism.

Clwyd South MP Susan Elan Jones has backed a bill in Parliament that would make autism understanding training mandatory for all police officers in England and Wales.

The Police Officer Training (Autism Awareness) Bill was supported by the National Autistic Society and introduced by Welsh Labour MP Ann Clwyd. Speaking in Parliament, Ms Clwyd said she thought it was essential that police had training to make sure they could support autistic people.

She also pointed out recent research which has found that just 37 per cent police officers reported having had autism training, while 92 per cent of those who hadn’t had training said they would find it useful.

Tim Nicholls, Head of Policy at the National Autistic Society said: “Autistic people are subject to the law, just like anyone else.

"But autistic people are at greater risk of being unfairly criminalised due to a lack of understanding of autism - among the police, courts and the wider public. For example, autistic people find communicating difficult and can become extremely anxious in situations they don't understand - particularly if they're surrounded by noise and confusion.

"In some cases, this can lead to people not responding when they are given instructions or losing control of their behaviour. This can be misinterpreted by emergency services and things can escalate quickly.

"Police are at the front line of our communities. It’s vital that they can recognise people who could be autistic and know the simple ways they can adapt their communication or actions, so they can make sure that autistic people are treated fairly and don’t face injustice.

"We know that police officers want to do their best and this training could help them do that, creating a society where all autistic people benefit from the protection and support of the police.”

Susan Elan Jones MP said: “I was delighted to support this very sensible bill. I was also pleased to meet recently in Parliament with Sam Stone of the National Autistic Society Cymru. We had a good meeting and discussed many different issues relating to autistic people and their families.”